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Friday, December 14, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary and Another School Shooting

 The opinions in this essay are those of the author

Most of the time, when something happens in the news, I am able to keep quiet in politically mixed company.  Meaning, around my politically conservative friends and family, I keep my mouth closed to avoid making them mad at me.  Where politics are concerned, I am a confrontation avoider.

However, following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, I am experiencing the anger stage of grief, and I simply can not bear to listen to the chatter in defense of those who want to carry semi and fully automatic weapons. 

Tonight, I am out of the closet.  I don’t like guns.  They scare me.  I don’t hunt, I don’t want a gun in my classroom, and I won’t have one in my home.  I have never touched a loaded gun. 

I admire my friends and colleagues who have the strength of character to state their beliefs openly.  Though I am very independent minded and outspoken about what is important to me, I don’t like to argue for the sake of argument.  I don’t enjoy debating with those whose minds are not open to other’s opinions.

I am annoyed by those in our current political culture who can not acknowledge a good point of argument simply because it does not mesh with their opinion.  Even opponents on a football field can appreciate a strong play made by an opposing team member. Perhaps it is a lack of self-esteem, but I find it simpler to keep my thoughts within me in hopes others will still like me.

Most laws in America are written to insure the safety of our population.  Why is the subject of gun safety so taboo?

To those who want to continue keep a handgun under your pillow, that is your choice as an American.  Some friends and family, whom I love, in fact do.  I choose not to have a handgun nor do I see the need to have an automatic weapon of any kind. Even with problems boiling overseas, in the near future, I don’t foresee the need to raise a militia as is guaranteed in our constitution.  As far as I am concerned, guns are for war, for hunting, and for the police.  The average American does not need a semi-automatic weapon for protection.

Nearly two years ago, Dr. Vicki Kaspar, a beautiful woman, a teacher, a wife, a mother was murdered.  A gun, ironically a police weapon, used by a 16 year-old in yet another school shooting, killed her.

An angry student stole his police officer father’s weapon and murdered one of my teacher mentors, a colleague whom I respected and admired.  During the final moments of her life, she suffered terribly as she cried for help while bleeding out behind her office desk. 

Her office was a tiny room where she devoted years of her career as an administrator. She doled out guidance and careful advice, along with necessary and fair-handed disciplinary action, to the troubled youth who crossed her office threshold.

I no longer worked in that particular school on the day the peace of the safe and comfortable learning environment at Millard South was murdered.  I can not imagine the hell my friends and former colleagues experienced.  Must they continue to relive this each time a troubled person walks into a school and shatters the lives of families, and abruptly ends the youth of too many children and teens?

I had the honor of working closely with Vicki for 16 years.  Since her death, on several occasions, I have wanted to call her or to send her a quick email, asking for advice or to brag about a new lesson that I invented.  I know she would have cheered me on, giving me exactly the boost that I needed at that moment.  

For now, I have to be satisfied with seeing her in my dreams, as I often do, the way I remember her most on the day I last saw her.  She was sitting behind her desk, wearing a cheery red business suit–the school color-her shining golden hair eclipsed by her warm smile.

A life ended too soon, by a gun in the wrong hands.  The time for action was yesterday. 

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